The Dallas Cowboys have several difficult decisions to make in the offseason and one of those is what to do with their All-Pro and often injured linebacker Sean Lee.
Lee, long considered one of the best linebackers in the NFL has regularly struggled to staunch healthy, including a 2018 campaign that saw jimmy take a back seat to emerging players like Jaylon Smith and rookie sensation Leighton Vander Esch.
According to OverTheCap.com, Lee is slated to have a cap hit of just over $10 million dollars this season. The Cowboys if they were to release him could save a little more than $7 million in this year's cap while accumulating just over $3 million in dead money toward this year's cap.
Lee was limited to just seven games in 2018 and was held out down the stretch. This after only playing in 11 games in 2017.
During that 2017, the Dallas Cowboys were terrible on defense when Sean Lee sat out due to injury, but were able to flip the script in 2018.
The Cowboys first signed Joe Thomas to provide depth at the linebacker position. Then they drafted Leighton Vander Esch with the 19th overall pick in the first round. Both of those players played significant roles throughout the season and have relegated Lee, who will be 33 years old in July, to being a cap casualty.
The Cowboys will head into the offseason knowing that Jaylon Smith is their middle linebacker and Vander Esch is their weak side linebacker for the 2019 season. Joe Thomas will be back and continues to provide depth backing up at a couple of spots. Damien Wilson is a free agent, but could be back depending on the money as he provides valuable, though limited snaps at strong side linebacker.
Sean Lee has been a great player for the Cowboys when he's been available. 2018 was really the only time in his career that his injuries looked to catch up with him. Even when deemed healthy, he didn't look like the same player he had been earlier in his career.
As he should, he'll explore his options in free agency and could be an option for a contender that could use a veteran presence like Lee at a relatively cheap rate. Someone like the Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers, or the New England Patriots could give Lee a limited role, which would allow him to be effective at his advanced playing age.
It seems almost a foregone conclusion that off Lee plays in 2019, it won't be for the Dallas Cowboys. It's a tough business. As we've seen with DeMarco Murray, Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and Jason Witten, the end of a tenure with a franchise comes to every one of our favorite players and sadly, it seems that time has come for Sean Lee.